Info on Houdini's "Paper Magic"?

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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/09/05 12:22 PM

Is anyone here familiar with the history/compilation of Houdini's "Paper Magic"? I'm looking for some help crediting an item in the book. The effect is introduced with the following: "Another method is that used by a friend of mine, a society entertainer in New York City, who has supplied me with the following minutely detailed summary of the trick as performed by himself."

I have two likely candidates, but I'm hoping to get a more solid answer on who this person is. If anyone here can help, please drop me a line.

Thanks!

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 02/09/05 01:03 PM

Origami historian David Lister has done some research on this. It's written from an origami perspective and concentrates on the paper folding section, but he also gives bibliographical information and mentions Walter Gibson as the presumed author. You can read the article at:

http://theory.lcs.mit.edu/~edemaine/fol ... udini.html
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Postby Guest » 02/09/05 01:24 PM

Jim, Edwin beat me to the Lister reference, but I am aware of a reference to the effect you are looking for in Hay's Cyclopedia of Magic. Hay credits David Devant with the effect; perhaps you have some Devant books which may contain a suitable bibliography...

My "guess" about who might have shown the effect to Houdini would be Kellar....

opie
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Postby Guest » 02/09/05 01:43 PM

I'll betcha Al Baker was in there somewheres...
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/09/05 01:45 PM

Thanks guys. I'm familiar with the link to the info from David Lister, but it didn't give me a whole lot of info.

Opie -- it's definitely not Kellar, as Kellar's handling for the effect immediately precedes the one in question. I will look into the Hay/Devant references, though. Thanks.

If anyone else has any info, I'd appreciate it.

-Jim
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/09/05 02:33 PM

Richard,
I'm not sure about Al Baker. Would he be considered a "society entertainer" in the early 20's? Also, I know that he did a version of the trick that's very different from the one described in Paper Magic. I can look into it some more, though.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 02/09/05 03:05 PM

Originally posted by Jim Maloney:
Richard,
I'm not sure about Al Baker. Would he be considered a "society entertainer" in the early 20's? Also, I know that he did a version of the trick that's very different from the one described in Paper Magic. I can look into it some more, though.

-Jim
If you read the Baker books, Al Baker gives a sort of "timeline" for his performing thru those days. I think it is in "Magical Ways and Means", sort of a bio of his magical experiences, condensed and illustrative of several views he was propounding then. Don't have the book to hand, but as I recall he was working Vaudeville and the Chautaqua (sp?) circuit during the twenties, not exactly "High Society"!

Best, PSC
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/09/05 03:14 PM

That was my impression, too, Paul. I'm at work now, so I wasn't able to look it up, but I was planning on pulling out my copy of "The Secret Ways..." when I got home.

BTW -- not to badger you, but did you get the e-mail I sent about a week or so ago? It's actually related to this discussion...

Thanks,
Jim
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Postby Guest » 02/09/05 03:21 PM

Jim, don't overlook Hilliard and Downs...The effect is very well addressed in The Art of Magic...opie
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/09/05 04:33 PM

Maybe I should clarify my original query. I'm looking for the creator of the specific handling I referenced in Paper Magic. I'm well aware of many other sources for the effect and have a number of different handlings in my file.

I'm trying to determine who the specific "society entertainer in New York City" is. Although the full history of the effect does interest me, at the moment I'm more concerned about the originator of the specific handling in Paper Magic.

Thanks folks -- I do appreciate all your responses, it's just that they are not what I'm looking for at the moment.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 02/10/05 12:52 AM

I doubt that I'll be able to provide any more information, but out of curiosity which "item in the book" is it that we're talking about? Maybe I missed something, as everyone else seems to know.
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Postby Guest » 02/10/05 06:28 AM

Jim,

Why do I have a feeling that one of your "prime suspects" is Nate Leipzig? :)

If you haven't already noticed, the routine in question bears a striking similarity to the one described in Stanyon's MAGIC, November 1907, page 13:

EXPLANATORY PROGRAMMES.

LEIPZIC, EMPIRE, LIVERPOOL, OCTOBER 1907

REPORTED BY H. J. HOLLAND.

Torn and Restored Cigarette Paper.- Torn up and restored. Done a second time to show audience how it is done, explaining that, of course, there must be two pieces of paper, and proceed to roll one piece into a ball and place in the fork of the thumb and forefinger. Tears up another cigarette paper, and while doing so, lets the ball of paper fall from the hand on to the floor (to the satisfaction of the audience), who are much surprised to see the trick completed without the dropped cigarette paper.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/10/05 07:38 AM

I have no idea what would give you that impression, Craig. :)

Edwin: I'm referring to the second handling of the Torn and Restored Cigarette Paper.

The handling does bear a strong similarity to the handling attributed to Leipzig in the Vernon book and Stars of Magic (with some important differences). My gut instinct is that it is Leipzig's. However, considering my other candidate is Vernon, I can't say for certain that one or the other is correct.

The sucker explanation was fairly common at the time, so that alone does not help.

Leipzig himself describes a performance of the effect in his autobiography (the last several paragraphs of Part 6). The patter lines given there are slighty different from what's in Paper Magic, and some of the phrasing in regards to paper and how he handles it are different.

Craig -- somehow that reference in Stanyon's Magic passed me by. I've done a number of searches through that magazine, but never saw that. I'll pull out the CD again when I get home tonight.

Thanks folks!
-Jim
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Postby Guest » 02/10/05 01:26 PM

Originally posted by Jim Maloney:
I've done a number of searches through that magazine, but never saw that.
When you do research on Nate Leipzig, you need to remember that his name was often misspelled.

For example, I have some copies of old newspaper articles mentioning him. There's one from 1906 where he's called "Leipsic".

In Stanyon's MAGIC, he's called "Leipzic", "Leipsic", and even his real name "Leipziger".

I wonder if that ever annoyed him?
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/10/05 01:50 PM

Yeah, I'm definitely aware of the many spelling of Leipzig. I've got newspaper clippings, census data, passenger manifests, naturalization forms, etc. that give at least five different forms of his name.

I've seen Leipziger, Leipsiger, Leipzig, Leipsig, and Leipsic. And I'm sure there's more that I'm not remembering right now.

And not only that, but several members of his family went by different FIRST names at various points. His brother Fred, for example, was called Issac (his middle name) when they lived in Sweden, and that is how he's listed on the passenger manifest when they came to the US. Afterwards, however, everything shows him as "Fred" or "Frederick".

Most places correctly get the first part right, though ("Leip"), so most of my searches are focusing on 'Leip*'.

Oh yeah...one more fun name thing. He used at least two different stage names during a tour of Canada while WWI was going on. Seems the folks booking him weren't too thrilled about having someone with such a German-sounding name, despite the fact that he had travelled Europe without a problem.

Thanks,
Jim
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Joined: 07/23/01 12:00 PM
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